A Contemporary History of Ladonia, Part I
The Birth of Ladonia: Summer 1996
A country can be claimed as a country when it is in control of its territory. That was the basis for the decision to declare Ladonia independent of Sweden on the 2nd of June 1996.
The artist and art historian, Lars Vilks, had been involved in a long legal fight with the Swedish authorities over the two huge monuments Nimis and Arx since 1982. Though numerous (we lost count) charges, motions and trials had been going on for more than a decade, the authorities never succeeded in removing the installations.
In 1996, the Chancellor of Justice (similar to the US Supreme Court) had found that the County Administrative Board in Skåne had mishandled the cases surrounding Nimis and Arx and there seemed to now be a period of peace (or, at least, a lack of active court battles). It was at this time that Vilks noted the continued existence of the monuments Nimis and Arx meant that de facto control of the land did not belong to Sweden because if it had the monuments would have been removed, and so the sovereign nation of Ladonia was proclaimed among the stones and cliffs on a piece of headland in the south of Sweden. The surface area was 1 square km.
This piece of land had been a part of a Swedish nature reserve “Kullen”, a mountain and a headland about 10 km in length in the south of Sweden. Ladonia is a part of the shore and mountainside on the north side of the peninsula. No other activities can be found there and there are no inhabitants, so declaring Ladonia a sovereign nation did not deprive anyone of either their home or livelihood. In fact, the spot where Ladonia sits had only become known because of the attention from media. According to the Hoganas Visitors Bureau, Ladonia is now visited by around 40,000 visitors every year.
Vilks did not make the decision to declare independence alone. There were 14 original ministers who were part of the original provisional government: Richard Ahlqvist – Minister of Defence, Emanuel Bock – Minister of Health, Sven-Erik Borglund – Minister of Finance, Leif Eriksson – Minister of Pictures, Margareta Granvik – Minister of Jazz, Ladislaus Horatius – Minister of Sophistry, Anders Löwdin – Minister of Internet, Anders Larsson – Minister of Book-Holding, Svenborg Mellström – Minister of Mail, Tiit Mathiesen – Minister of Brain, Kjell Mårtensson – Minister of Environment and Social Affairs, Erik Norman – Minister of Justice, Stellan Olsson – Minister of Film, and David Stansvik – Minister of Literature. Some of these ministers never became active in Ladonia, but their task of backing up the new country made their participation important. Vilks took the position of chancellor and promised to have an election when that could be arranged. Letters proclaiming the new country were sent to the Swedish Prime Minister and the King.
On the 2nd of June, hundreds of people had gathered in Ladonia, which in itself is impressive because the country is not easy to visit — you have to climb down a steep slope on the side of a mountain. The enthusiasm among the assembled crowd was great and many of the visitors decided to become citizens of Ladonia on the spot. Speeches were given by the chancellor and by the ministers. The huge monument of wood, Nimis, became the capital of Ladonia and the stone-book Arx chief town.
Around this same time, the Minister of Internet started a website for Ladonia where it was possible to apply for citizenship. The online citizenship application was novel in 1996 and made it convenient for people all over the world to apply and so many, many did and the number of citizens increased rapidly. Media followed the country continuously and the interest in Ladonia continued to grow. Thousands of people visited the stone country during the summer season, many of them exchanging money into Ladonian currency, many of them also became noble citizens.
The very existence of Ladonia relied on the internet and very soon the rising popularity of the Internet and Ladonia’s presence on the net helped the nascent country grow in every direction. In August of 1996, the Ladonian newspaper, Ladonia Herald, was first published online. The first issue proclaimed the idea of the new country.
The production and the activity in Ladonia is based upon creativity, information, organization, and administration. The mixture of fiction and reality has become the main point of Ladonian life.